1) Optimism – we are optimistic about what God is doing in the present age. Jesus is building his church.
2) Long-term – we are also realistic about what God is doing in the present age. We are far from finished.
From a Garden to a City
The Bible begins in a garden (Genesis 1-2) and ends in a city (Revelation 21-22). This is no accident; it is God’s plan. God never intended his creation to remain in a “natural” state.
God intended to transform the garden into a city. The goal of creation is civilization. We see hints of this from the beginning.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26).
This is often called “the Dominion Mandate.” God ordained that mankind play the key role in transforming the earth from a garden to a city. He created man to take dominion, or to rule over all the earth. This could not be accomplished by Adam and Eve alone.
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).
God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. He wanted them to fill the earth. God wanted the earth covered with his representatives. He commanded them to subdue the earth and gave them dominion, or rule, over all of it.
Obviously, Adam and Eve failed to rule perfectly, but God did not change his plan. God had planned for this all along. He set out to redeem creation by transforming mankind and the earth.
We see the “Dominion Mandate” repeated after the flood.
“So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth’” (Genesis 9:1).
God still wants the earth to be filled with his representatives, with godly people. He wants them to rule over the earth, to subdue and transform it.
This mandate does not change in the New Testament era. Jesus gave this charge just prior to his ascension.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus commanded the apostles to “make disciples of all the nations,” which is often interpreted as “make at least one individual Christian from every nation.”
Actually, the apostles are to “disciple all the nations.” They are to bring entire nations under the rule of Jesus Christ.
Again, we see that God wants the earth covered with godly people. What we call “the Great Commission” is simply an update of “the Dominion Mandate.”